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No sign of progress in auto strike

The auto workers’ strike against Detroit’s Big Three entered its fourth day with no signs of rapid progress and the threat that the strike could soon expand.

A General Motors spokesperson said representatives from the company and the United Auto Workers union were continuing negotiations Monday.

So far, the strike is limited to about 13,000 workers at three factories: one at GM, one at Ford and one at Stellantis. GM warned, however, that 2,000 UAW-represented workers at a Kansas City assembly plant “are expected to be idled beginning early this week” due to a shortage of supplies at a GM plant near St. Louis , where workers walked out. work Friday.

Workers at the Kansas City plant build the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she hoped for a quick resolution and that it was too early to assess the impact of the strike.

“It is premature to make predictions about what this means for the economy. It will depend on how long the strike lasts and who is affected by it,” she said on CNBC.

Yellen said labor activism this year — strikes by Hollywood writers and actors, workers at about 150 Starbucks locations and narrowly averted walkouts at United Parcel Service and West Coast ports — has been driven by a strong labor market and strong demand for workers.

In a sign of the economic and political potential of a long strike, President Joe Biden is sending two senior administration officials to Detroit this week to meet with both sides. Biden sided with the UAW in brief public comments, saying automakers had not shared their record profits fairly with workers.

An administration official said Monday that acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and her top aide Gene Sperling would not serve as mediators — they would not be at the negotiating table — but would travel to Detroit “to help support negotiations in any manner that the parties deem appropriate. constructive.”

UAW President Shawn Fain said Monday that the Biden administration would not negotiate a deal.

“This is our battle. Our members are on the picket lines,” Fain said on MSNBC. “This battle is not about the president, it is not about the former president.”

The UAW is demanding wage increases of 36 percent over four years, while the companies have proposed about 20 percent. The union is also calling for a 32-hour work week for 40 hours of pay, as well as other changes.

Rather than launch an all-out strike by its 146,000 members, the union chose to target three factories, a plan that could extend the life of the union’s $825 million strike fund. Workers walked out of a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant near Detroit and a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio, that produces Jeeps.

A key part of the UAW’s strategy is the threat of strike escalation if the union is unhappy with the pace of negotiations. On Friday, Fain said more factories could be targeted: “It could be in a day, it could be in a week. »


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